(Warning, this is about as related to Shakespeare as any other turn of any of his phrases, but it’s as good a place as any to braindump something I’ve been thinking about. I’ll try to make it as Shakespearey as I can. :))
There’s an expression among writers, I’ve lost the original source, that goes “I don’t want to write, I want to have written.”
In a strangely ironic twist I’ve often found myself using a related example in regard to books when I’ll say, “I don’t want to read it, but I want to have read it.” The author of these books is almost always Dan Brown, by the way. :) I once pitched to a friend a similar concept for movies, where you could rip the audio track from a dvd, and then listen to that the same way. For dialogue heavy movies you could still get the general plot, recognize the famous quotes, and be able to say that you are familiar with it. Even though you never saw it.
I realize this morning that this philosophy could be extended to just about anything. I don’t want to eat, I want to have eaten. I don’t want to sleep, I want to have slept. I don’t want to do, I want to have done.
Is it the journey, or the destination? Hamlet’s question is deeper, but precisely because we can’t experiment with it. We can’t both be and not be and then decide for ourselves which is better, we can only hypothesize about it.
In its own way, my question is quite related to his. After all, doesn’t “to be” imply some level of awareness, of actually paying attention to your own life? If you’re just going through the paces, always considering the future at the expense of the present, are you really “being”?
I don’t really have anywhere I’m going with this, just wanted to throw it out there. I’ve had times when I’m awful at this, and I was reminded of it when speaking of audiobooks and I told the story of how I used to listen to them and 2x speed in the car for exactly the above reasons – I wanted to have read it, but not to read it. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable, and yet here I am deliberately shortening that portion. It’s just not right.